Aero Vodochody will allow customers to select between attack and advanced trainer versions of the two-seat L-159B on the production line. The Czech manufacturer, which introduced the L-159B at last month's Farnborough show, is stressing the two-seater's combat capabilities as well as its training role.

The L-159B has been fitted with a new nose housing an electro-optical sensor or laser designator in place of the single-seat L-159A's Fiar Grifo multimode radar. The front cockpit is the same as in the single-seater, but the radar display is removed. The rear cockpit can be configured for an instructor or weapon systems officer.

Aero is hoping the L-159B's $10 million price will attract customers following the Czech defence ministry's launch order for two aircraft. More Czech orders are expected, probably 10, but the final number is in question given the air force's decision to sell 36 of the 72 L-159As it has on order.

The Czech L-159B order has boosted Aero's export drive. The company has been focusing on India but, following Indian defence minister Georges Fernades's comments last week that a price has been agreed with BAE Systems for 66 Hawk trainers, Aero's opportunity may have passed.

Aero also believes Malaysia and Venezuela are potential L-159B buyers and is hoping sales will lead to purchases of the single-seater. The company is predicting its first international order this year and forecasts sales of 150-170 aircraft, enough to break even, over six years.

The manufacturer, meanwhile, continues to develop its subcontracting activities having begun producing Sikorsky S-76 fuselages.

The company is also hoping to receive direct offset work from the Czech air force's planned Saab/BAE Gripen order.

Source: Flight International